LIVING WAGE NOW Forum – October 12 – 14th 2015

Living Wage Now Forum in Brussels from 12 – 14 October 2015

Support garment workers as they campaign for a living wage now!
Support garment workers as they campaign for a living wage now!

From October 12 to 14, 2015, Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) organises the Living Wage Now Forum in Brussels. For three days, CCC will take the next steps together with officials from major fashion brands, workers’ representatives from around the world and European policy makers and work towards a living wage for all garment workers.

Since 2013, the Clean Clothes Campaign network has actively supported the mobilisation for a living wage, bringing to Europe the voice of the garment workers worldwide.

Nearly three years on and the campaign has paid off with a  global movement for a living wage consolidating and businesses and policy makers committed to a common goal.

But commitment alone is not enough. Millions of workers still live in unbearable conditions. Most of the women stitching our clothes earn only 20% to 30% of a living wage. The Living Wage Now Forum will be a unique experience that will take stock of the progress made since the beginning of this unprecedented global campaign, but especially encourage brands and politicans to finally move from rhetoric to action.

 

WHO PARTICIPATES?

More than 200 participants

35 representatives of workers’ organizations from around the world;

49 representatives of the Clean Clothes Campaign global network;

8 international brands (H&M, Inditex/Zara, C&A, Tchibo, Tesco, N’Brown, New Look, Pentland, Primark) and 5 Belgian brands (E5 Mode, JBC, Lola & Liza Stanley & Stella, Bel & Bo)

Several members of the European Parliament, and Mr. Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director General for Development and Cooperation;

Representatives of international organizations such as the ILO and the OECD;

Academics and representatives of organizations active in the field of business and human rights.

 

You can find the full program here:

http://www.livingwagenow.eu/uploads/images/LWN%20Forum%20program01102015.pdf

 

Here you find information about some of the speakers and more:

http://www.livingwagenow.eu/forum

Global pressure urges retailers to ‘close the gap’ in funding in time for second anniversary of Rana Plaza disaster.

24th April 2015 marks the two-year anniversary of the worst industrial accident to ever hit the garment industry, when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh came crashing down killing 1134 garment workers.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and its trade union allies and partners are marking the second anniversary of disaster, with a global call to action, demanding that the Rana Plaza survivors and victims’ families immediately receive the full compensation they are entitled to; and that all apparel brands and retailers.

Despite the growing urgency, brands continue to postpone payments to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, or make payments that are clearly insufficient to close the $4.5 million gap in funds necessary to ensure the survivors of Rana Plaza receive full and fair compensation.

The ILO set up the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund in January 2014 to collect compensation for the victims of the disaster. The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee (RPCC), set up in October 2013, was tasked with developing and overseeing the compensation process, known as the Arrangement. The RPCC includes representatives from the Bangladesh government, Bangladesh industry, global brands and retailers, Bangladeshi and international trade unions and Bangladeshi and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), with the ILO acting as the neutral chair. In the development of the Arrangement the brand representatives refused to set specific payment amounts for each company.

Since the opening of the Fund in January 2014 campaigners have argued that donations should reflect a company’s ability to pay, the size of their relationship with Bangladesh and the extent of their relationship with Rana Plaza however nearly every brand linked to the Rana Plaza building has made insufficient donations, thus failing to live up to their responsibilities to the victims. Some brands, such as Mango, Matalan, and Inditex have refused to disclose their donation. Others, such as Walmart and The Children’s Place, while publicly disclosing their donation, still only contributed a minimal amount.

“We need to start asking questions as to why out of all the companies with direct links to Rana Plaza only two – Primark and Loblaw – have stepped up in a financially meaningful way, showing that they take their responsibilities seriously, and that they do respect the lives of workers. If all the other companies involved had followed suit, we would not be entering into this funding crisis that we are today, just one day until the anniversary of the disaster and still facing over a 4 million shortfall,” says Kate Nolan of the Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland.

On April 24, 2013, shortly after 8AM, the Rana Plaza building collapsed, when eight storeys of concrete came crashing down, killing 1,134 people. Many were killed instantly. Many others were buried alive, forcing some to amputate their own limbs in order to escape and survive. It is estimated that there were 3890 people in the Rana Plaza building at the time of collapse.

‘If we have learnt anything from this disaster it is that  it is vital that any retailer doing business in Bangladesh should be signed up to the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, not just those that were producing in Rana Plaza. That means Dunnes Stores and O’Neills and any company sourcingthier garments  from vulnerable workers in the Bangladesh garment sector. ‘ continues Kate

Fashion Revolution Day
Global actions began in Genova, Italy, on , 18 April and have continued across across the world in the week leading up to 24 April 2015 when social media activism is set to make a global noise under the hashtag #fashrev #whomademyclothes. Fashion Revelotuion Day is set to take over the social media platforms for the day as millions of  consumers ask a simple question to their favourite brands and retialers – who made my clothes? Intended as a mark of respect for garment workers around the world and instigated by London based designer Carry Sommers as a reaction to the Rana Plaza disaster, Fashion Revolution Day is marked in over 66 countries around the world.

 

Benetton continues to deny compensation to Rana Plaza victims

Benetton continues to refuse to pay compensation to Rana Plaza victims
Benetton continues to refuse to pay compensation to Rana Plaza victims

Benetton targeted over Rana Plaza compensation on International Human Rights Day.

Labour rights campaigners across Europe and the USA are marking this years’ International Human Rights Day by calling on Italian fashion brand Benetton to finally pay into a fund set up to pay compensation to thousands of families affected by the Rana Plaza disaster in April 2013.

On and around 10 December 2014, activists will be participating in street actions in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. demanding that Benetton immediately pay into a fund set up by the ILO to provide compensation to those injured in the collapse and the families of those killed. These street actions will be complimented by online actions from all over the world, coordinated through the launch of a new website by the Clean Clothes Campaign targeted at Benetton: https://payup.cleanclothes.org. Campaigners have also called on franchise holders of Benetton stores throughout Europe to support the campaign by asking the Benetton Group to take immediate action.

“We are using International Human Rights Day to remind citizens that compensation is a right for all workers and that until compensation is paid in full there will be no justice for the Rana Plaza workers,” said Deborah Lucchetti from the Campagna Abiti Puliti. “We are determined to continue our campaign until Benetton pays what it owes.”

Benetton is the only international brand with confirmed links to the Rana Plaza factories which has refused to contribute a single penny to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, set up by the ILO in January 2013 to finance compensation payments to over five thousand individuals who either lost a relative or were injured in the garment industry’s worst ever industrial disaster. Almost a year since the Fund was first opened it has collected just over $22 million, leaving a significant shortfall in the amount required to pay all of compensation awards.

The awards have been calculated and agreed by the Rana Plaza Co-ordination Committee, which brings together government, brands, trade unions and factory owners to oversee a system to deliver and calculate compensation awards in line with international standards. With the claims process now almost complete campaigners say that the lack of funding is now the only obstacle to delivering full compensation to everybody before the new year.

In 2013, the same year as the Rana Plaza collapse, Edizione S.r.l., a company under the full control of the Benetton family and which owns the Benetton Group, earned profits of  €139 million.  Benetton is being asked to contribute $5 million to the Fund, an amount campaigners believe is proportional given the clear links between Benetton and one of the factories at Rana Plaza and the huge profits made by the company.

“Collectively the brands linked to Rana Plaza earn billion of dollars in profit from selling clothes – only a tiny fraction of this is needed to ensure justice for Rana Plaza victims” said Ilona Kelly of the Clean Clothes Campaign. “Given the exorbitant collective wealth of the Benetton family, and the continued profits of their investment company Edizione, surely they can afford to give just $5 million of that to the Rana Plaza victims”.

Forced labour scheme found in highstreet retailers supply chains

Forced labour found in highstreet retailers' supply chains

New Report from Clean Clothes Campaign finds bonded labour remains entrenched in highstreet fashion retailers’ supply chains.

The latest report released by Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland and their partners have found a bonded labour schemes targeting poverty stricken young girls as young as 15 in South India are supplying well known highstreet retailers including Primark, Motercare, C&A and Sainsbury’s among others.  

Flawed Fabrics an new report from Clean Clothes Campaign partners; the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) highlights serious labour rights and human rights violations faced by girls and young women in the South Indian textile hub of Tamil Nadu.

The report interviewed over 150 women and girls working in 5 of the estimated 1600 the spinning mills of Tamil Nadu, and found the practice of Sumangali schemes remains entrenched in the region. The Sumangali scheme is an employment arrangement targeting young girls recruited from marginalised Dalit communities in impoverished rural areas. Brought to the mills and factories on the promise of good wages, accommodation, three meals a day and the promise of a lump sum ‘dowry’ payment at the end of an agreed term, this report show that the vulnerable young girls find themselves in a very different situation.

Living in basic and over-crowded company-run hostels the girls interviewed faced restrictions of movement, rationed external communication and in many cases armed guards at the gates of compounds. Forced to work at least 60 hours a week in hostile and unhealthy conditions where night shifts and overtime are obligatory and pay is deducted in the case of illness.

A worker at Sulochana Cotton Spinning Mills said of her living conditions: “I do not like the hostel; there is no entertainment and no outside contact and is very far from the town. It is like a semi-prison.”  

Despite these significant breaches of worker and human rights, two of the researched mills received international certification (SA8000) from Social Accountability International (SAI) for adhering to international labour standards.

Kate Nolan of Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland states “On news of continued rising profits for low cost retailers like Penneys, we have to start to consider where these margins are realized. Buying practices including pricing need to allow for decent working conditions so that girls and young women in Tamil Nadu no longer have to face appalling working conditions that are tantamount to forced labour.“

Rosie O’Reilly of Re-dress, Ireland’s Sustainable Fashion Initiative comments

“The hallmark of a sustainable enterprise is not soaring profits but companies that show the means to encourage innovation and long-term planning around resource use and social responsibility. Companies should be creating more wealth than they destroy and should be building net wealth – social, ecological and economic. In the case of fast fashion brand Penneys and others named in this report this is not the case. There recent tie to Sumangali schemes in India illustrates this clearly as do the many reports released this year that link fashion brands to increasing environmental and humanitarian destruction. “

SOMO researcher and co-author of the report Martje Theuws says: “Business efforts are failing to address labour rights violations effectively. Corporate auditing is not geared towards detecting forced labour and other major labour rights infringements. Moreover, there is a near complete lack of supply chain transparency. Local trade unions and labour groups are consistently ignored.”

In addition, ICN programme officer Marijn Peepercamp states: “Governments at the buying end of the supply chain are failing to ensure that companies live up to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The state duty to protect and the corporate responsibility to respect human rights as laid down in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are not being respected.”

This is not the first time SOMO and ICN have reported the issue of forced labour in South India, the Captured by Cotton Report 2011  also raised the issue and produced many strong intentions to tackle the issue from multi stakeholders initiatives and retailers but to date we have seen little proof that their intentions are finding any path to changing the reality for these young girls.

 

Read the full reports here 

Flawed Fabrics Report 2014

Captured by Cotton Report 2011

 

 

German Retailer KIK continues to deny full compensation for victims of three deadliest garment industry tragedies in history

German retailer KIK continue to delay paying full compensation to victims of the two deadliest garment factory disasters in history

 

Today, marks the second anniversary of the fatal fire at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed at least 254 garment workers and injured 55. Two years on, the victims families and the survivors are still waiting for the compensation they are entitled to.

Just weeks before the fire, the factory was audited on behalf of Italian social audit firm RINA for SAI (Social Accountability International) SA8000 certification – and passed – even though it had no emergency exits, barred windows, was not registered and had an entire illegal mezzanine floor built on.

The survivors and victims families fate is shared with the families of more than 1,300 garment workers who have been killed in unsafe workplaces in Asia since the Ali Enterprises fire, and the thousands more who survived fires and building collapses but whose lives have been changed forever.

German retailer KiK had clothes produced in each of the three factories to witness the greatest loss of life – Ali Enterprises, Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza – and yet to date has failed to provide full and fair compensation for all the victims.

In December 2012 KIK, the only known buyer at Ali Enterprises factory, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) committing an initial US$1 million for immediate relief and agreeing to negotiations surrounding the amount required to pay compensation. However the negotiation is being delayed by KiK, who most recently pulled out at the last minute of planned negotiations in July and compensation remains unpaid.

KIK has committed US$1 million to the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund, just a fifth of what Clean Clothes Campaign estimates they owe, based on their annual turnover. And for the victims of Tazreen Fashions they have failed to contribute a cent.

 “KIK were sourcing from the factories involved in three of history’s deadliest tragedies – Tazreen, Ali Enterprises and then or course Rana Plaza, – these were not accidents, these were the result of continuous price pressures by discount retailers like KIK causing factory owners to cut corners and to keep pay at poverty levels, forcing workers to risk their lives to keep their families from destitution. Over 1,600 people died in these three tragedies and two years later the injured workers and surviving families are barely able to make ends meet. KIK must pay full and fair compensation to all those who have paid the highest price for KIK’s low cost products, their refusal to accept their responsibility for full compensation just prolongs the suffering of the very people their profits are built on.” Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland

The tragedies in the garment industry over the last two years have highlighted the urgent need for a more long term and sustainable compensation system for workplace accidents as per ILO standards and in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights right to remedy framework. The framework makes clear that “when … there is a failure to protect and respect human rights in the workplace then governments and companies must ensure effective remedies, including adequate compensatory payments.”

It is not charity that the survivors want, it is their right to full and fair compensation,” says Mr. Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER.

As workers and campaigners around the world hold candlelight vigils to commemorate those who died in the fire, Clean Clothes Campaign renews it’s call to KiK to resume negotiations based on the legally binding agreement with PILER, and pay up, ensuring all the victims families and survivors receive the compensation they are owed before another year passes.

 

Response to ‘cry for help’ notes found in Penneys garments.

Clean Clothes Campaign responds to recent stories of ‘calls for help’ found in Penneys clothing.

Over the past week there have been reports of notes for help or messages stitched into clothing sold by Irish retailer Penneys purportedly from workers suffering inhumane conditions in the production of clothes for the retail giant.

Clean Clothes Campaign, in response to the stories says, “It is difficult to know whether these notes are genuine. However speculation on the origin of the messages should not distract from the known reality which is that the conditions described – in particular long hours, poverty pay and unsafe working conditions – are a fact of life for the majority of women and men producing clothes for high street brands including Primark.

“As our recent reports, Tailored Wages 2014 and Stitched Up – Eastern Europe Report clearly demonstrate inhumane conditions and wages that full far short of a living wage are endemic in the industry and can be found from clothing factories in Bangladesh to Bulgaria, Cambodia to Croatia.

“Penneys are not alone in sourcing from these factories and it is important that Penneys and all clothing brands take action and put an end to exploitative and inhumane purchasing practices and ensure the people who make their clothes are paid a living wage in decent working conditions.

“To pay a decent living wage would cost a brand like Primark just 50 cents more paid directly to a worker. As these stories have shown, cheap fashion at the expense of another persons dignity does not lie comfortably in the mind of consumers.”

TAILORED WAGES – NEW REPORT INVESTIGATES LEADING RETAILERS’ WORK ON LIVING WAGES

Web Tailored Wages Image banner

Tailored Wages – new report investigates clothing brands’ work on living wages.

 Survey of 39 leading clothing brands on Irish high-street show they must do much more to ensure garment workers receive a wage they can live on.

Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland has launched ‘Tailored Wages’ an in depth study of what the leading 39 clothing brands on the Irish and European high-street are doing to ensure that the workers who produce the clothes they sell are paid a living wage.

 Based on a multi-brand survey “Tailored Wages” found that whilst half of those surveyed included wording in their codes of conduct saying that wages should be enough to meet workers’ basic needs; only four brands – Inditex (Zara), Marks & Spencers, Switcher and Tchibo – were able to show any clear steps towards implementing this – and even they have a long way to go before a living wage becomes a reality for the garment workers that produce for them.

Irish retailers lag behind

 Of the Irish retailers requested to participate, only Penneys were willing to share their projects and ongoing work with relation to workers’ wages. Neither Dunnes Stores nor O’Neills sportswear suppliers were able to supply even rudimentary information on codes of conduct or ethical trading policies.

Download the full report hereTailored Wages 2014

More action and less talk

“Although a living wage is a human right, shockingly none of Europe’s leading 50 companies is yet paying a living wage,” said Anna McMullen, the lead author on the report. “The research showed that while more brands are aware of the living wage and recognise that it is something to be included in their codes of conduct and in CSR brochures, disappointingly for most of the brands surveyed this was as far as they went. With millions of women and men worldwide dependent on the garment industry it is vital that these words are turned into definitive actions sooner rather than later.”

Co-author, Kate Nolan of Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland added “We were disappointed but not surprised to find that so many retailers are doing so little to ensure living wages are met in their supply chains. The fact remains that a living wage is a human right and retailers who continue to abdicate their responsibilities in this matter are infringing upon those workers’ human rights”

Struggle for living wages reaching critical point

In key garment producing countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia the struggle for a living wage continues, as latest figures from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance show that living wage levels are, on average, three times the minimum wage a garment worker receives.

Cambodian workers, currently receive  USD 100 a month, just 25% of the Asia Floor Wage calculation for Cambodia, while even after the post Rana Plaza disaster and enormous global pressure to increase the minimum wage to meet workers needs, Bangladesh stands at just 21%.

“My expenses are increasing every day,” says Lili, a factory worker from Cambodia. “Even if we [the workers] eat all together in a small room and I collect the money from all others, we still can only spend a very small amount each because everybody always thinks ‘how are we going to be able to send money home to our families?”

AFW-Comparison-DEF-72dpi

 

The Clean Clothes Campaign carried out the research to monitor how far policies are being turned into practice by major clothing brands. The role of companies in ensuring a living wage is paid is vital as they have the ability to change prices and purchasing practices that would ensure wages allowed garment workers to live with dignity.

What should a living wage cover

 

 

Tailored Wages is part of a global campaign run by Clean Clothes Campaign and partners the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calling on all brands and governments to take action in order to ensure a living wage is paid.

Uni Global Union Awards CCC with Freedom from Fear Award

The UNI Global Executive award the Clean Clothes Campaign with a ‘Freedom From Fear’ Award 2013.
ccc ireland uni global award

The award honours work by organisations who ‘break the cycle of violence against trade unionists and creating a safe environment for trade union work’ and was awarded to representatives from the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) for their work on The Bangladesh Building and Safety Accord. The Accord drove policy change in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013 and has resulted in 112 brands committing to the Safety Accord to date, covering at least 1,600 factories and securing the safety of over 2 million workers, mostly women, in Bangladesh.

Ineke Zeldenrust from the CCC says: ‘“The successful adoption of the Bangladesh Safety Accord by so many retailers is a great tribute to the tireless efforts of so many who long foresaw the terrible events witnessed in Bangladesh this April and to the incredible mobilisation of consumers and campaigners in direct response to such a tragedy. We are saddened that so many had to suffer such a terrible fate in order for retailers to react. Six months on  Rana Plaza and a year down the road from Tazreen,  we urge those retailers involved  to end the filibustering and come quickly to an agreement on compensation that will bring some relief to the suffering of the  families and survivors left behind.

Kate Nolan and Rosie O Reilly of CCC Ireland represented the Clean Clothes Campaign to collect the award at The Communication Workers’ Union, in William Norton House, Dublin 1, Wednesday 13th November. 

 

 

 

 

European Campaign calls on retailers to pay garment workers a living wage.

Activists in 15 countries across Europe demand clothing brands pay a living wage to garment workers.

 

Tomorrow, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is joining its European partners in launching a new campaign calling on clothing companies to Pay a Living Wage to garment workers. The #LivingWage campaign begins on 21st October with a week of action in 15 European countries.

 

The campaign launch comes exactly six months after the devastating collapse of Rana Plaza, in which 1,133 Bangladeshi workers were killed. Six months on from the largest industrial accident to hit the garment industry,  millions of workers continue to have no choice but to risk their lives in order to afford a decent life.

 

In Bangladesh, where an estimated 4 million people work in the garment industry, the current minimum wage is just €28.60 (3,000 taka) a month.  This is 11% of the €259.80 (27,369 taka) that Clean Clothes Campaign partner the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calculates to be a living wage for the country.

 

For many workers, the lack of a living wage means they must work long hours to earn overtime or bonuses and cannot risk taking time off due to unsafe working conditions or for ill health.

“We force ourselves to work long hours because the salary is not enough to live on, especially because my parents are dependent on my salary as well” says Horn Vy, a 25 year old garment worker in Cambodia.

For Horn Vy and other Cambodian garment workers the minimum wage is €60.95 (336,000 riel), just 21% of the €289.64 (1,596,059 riel) the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calculates to be a living wage in Cambodia.

 

“A living wage should be earned before overtime and allow a garment worker to be able to feed herself and her family, pay the rent, pay for healthcare and education and have a small amount of savings for when something unexpected happens.” says Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland.

 

The Irish Clean Clothes Campaign has brought this issue into focus with their 50 sense Campaign, choosing to highlight the truly tiny amount extra it would cost to achieve a living wage within the garment supply chain.

 

 

Arguments of supply and demand and cost sensitive markets don’t stand up against such a insignificant number. Just 50 cent more per garment, paid directly to a worker is the difference between her living with dignity or within a spiraling poverty trap.” says Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland

 

The increase of this €0.50 per garment accounts for just 1.42% of the retail price, a mere drop in the ocean of retailers like Penneys, H&M or Benetton who’s profits soar into the billions each year but as of yet no retailer has successfully integrated a living wage system into their supply chains.

 

Yet a recent survey carried out by Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland shows consumers expect retailers to do just this. According to Nolan,

 

We have seen a clear expectation expressed by consumers for retailers to pay a living wage to their workers. Of the 100 participants, 93% felt it was the responsibility of retailers to ensure their workers were paid a living wage, but we also saw that over 99% or consumers were willing to absorb part or all of the extra cost if retailers demanded it of them.”

 

“Companies must take steps to ensure they are paying a living wage in the countries they source from. Governments must ensure that minimum wages are set at levels that allow people to live with dignity. While low labour costs continue to be exploited throughout the industry it remains impossible to argue that the garment industry is benefiting those who work within it.

 

 

The 50 sense Campaign is supported by NGO’s, unions, schools, colleges and community groups across Ireland and from October 21st they will join activists and advocates for change across Europe to demand clothing companies take control of their supply chains and pay a living wage.

 

The Pay a Living Wage campaign is calling on:

 

  • clothing brands and companies to take action by setting concrete and measurable steps throughout their supply chain to ensure garment workers get paid a living wage.
  • national governments in garment producing countries to make sure minimum wages are set at living wage standards.
  • European governments to implement regulation that make sure companies are responsible for the impact they have on the lives of workers in their supply chain, including their right to earn a living wage.

 

 

–END–

 

Notes to editors:

 

For more information: http://www.cleanclothescampaignireland.org/livingwage

 

The Clean Clothes Campaign works with over 200 partner organisations worldwide to improve working conditions and support empowerment of workers in the global garment industry. The Campaign has offices in 12 European countries. 

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) is an international alliance of trade unions and labour rights activist who are working together to demand garment workers are paid a living wage.  Clean Clothes Campaign is a member of the alliance.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance carry out regular food basket research in the region to calculate new Asia Floor Wage figures.  The 2013 Asia Floor Wage figure is PPP$725. (PPP$ – Purchasing Power Parity $ – are an imaginary World Bank currency built on the consumption of goods and services by people, allowing standard of living between countries to be compared regardless of the national currency. ) To see the AFW in local currency please visit http://www.cleanclothes.org/livingwage/asia-floor-wage-by-country.

Living wage calculations must take into account some common factors including the number of family members to be supported, the basic nutritional needs of a worker and other basic needs including housing, healthcare, education and some basic savings.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance base their calculations on the following assumptions:

  1. A worker needs to be able to support themselves and two other “consumption units” (1 Consumption unit = 1 adult or 2 children)
  2. An adult requires 3,000 calories a day in order to be able to carry out their work.
  3. In Asia food costs account for half a workers monthly outgoings.

Sandblasting continues in China despite brands’ public pledges to ban the deadly practice.

Activists  continue to demand urgent action from governments and companies to stamp out the continued use of sandblasting and other unsafe finishing processes in the manufacture of denim jeans.  The call comes in a new report into conditions in six denim factories in the Chinese province of Guangdong, a region responsible for half of the world’s entire production of denim jeans.

The report, Breathless for Blue Jeans: Health hazards in China’s denim factories, finds that sandblasting is still widespread in China in order to give jeans a worn or ‘distressed’ look, despite most Western brands banning the practice three years ago because of its link to silicosis, a deadly lung disease that has already caused the deaths of many garment workers.

One worker interviewed said: “In our department, it’s full of jeans and black dust. The temperature on the shop floor is high. It’s difficult to breathe. I feel like I’m working in a coal mine.”

The new research, based on interviews with workers in the factories themselves, also revealed that workers are exposed to other dangerous finishing techniques to distress denim, including hand-sanding, polishing, dye application and spraying chemicals such as potassium permanganate, with limited protective gear and inadequate training in the proper use of equipment.

Factory workers are forced to endure these dangerous conditions for up to 15 hours a day in order to make ends meet, with the basic minimum wage often as low as 1,100 yuan (€137, £116) a month.

Campaigners are calling for a mandatory global ban on sandblasting in the garment industry, along with improved protection for workers involved in all other denim finishing techniques.

The report was produced by IHLO, the Hong Kong Liaison Office of the international trade union movement; Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), also based in Hong Kong; the global network Clean Clothes Campaign; and the workers’ rights pressure group War on Want.

The full report can be downloaded here